NF 10 for 10: Nonfiction Poetic Picture Books

Nonfiction PB 10 for 10


I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction picture books lately because we are doing a nonfiction mentor text book study at my school using FINDING THE HEART OF NONFICTION by Georgia Heard.


One of the things I admire about nonfiction is an author’s ability to convey facts in a very spare text. I especially enjoy it if the text is spare and beautiful. Today, all of my books have two things in common: 1) They are nonfiction picture books. 2) They have poetic texts. Not all of them are rhyming texts, but some of them are.

NF 10 for 10 with words

They can be used to cover content in the classroom, but they can also be used to teach writing techniques like vivid verbs, imagery, word choice, point of view, and much, much more.

eat like a bear

Eat Like a Bear

By April Pulley Sayre

Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

This book is told in second person point of view and also shares information about how bears eat after a long hibernation.

raindrops roll

Raindrops Roll

By April Pulley Sayre

 With extremely spare text, this book of photographs using lovely language to describe raindrops. A must-read if you are talking about word choice or the water cycle.

iridescence of birds

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

By Patricia MacLachlan

Illustrated by Hadley Hooper

One of my favorite books of 2014. This is a picture book biography that’s a poem told in second person point of view.


water can be

Water Can Be… (and also A Leaf Can Be…)

By Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Much like her poetic book about imagine what leaves can be, Salas’ book about water is also an excellent book to use with the water cycle and word choice.

some bugs

Some Bugs

By Angela DiTerlizzi

Illustrated by Brenden Wenzel

 Some bugs introduces all different types of bugs with fun, playful language.


swamp chomp

Swamp Chomp

By Lola Schaefer

Illustrated by Paul Meisel

Another very spare text with excellent vivid verbs. It also introduces the concept of a food chain.




by Jonah Winter

Illustrated by Sean Qualls

This picture book biography utilizes language that mirrors jazz music. An excellent biography, but it could also be used talk about pacing, rhythm, and word choice.

mama built a little nest

Mama Built a Little Nest

By Jennifer Ward

Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

This rhyming text told in first person point of view shows different birds and their nests. Small bits of expository text on each spread also provide additional information.

hello I'm johnny cash

Hello, I’m Johnny Cash

By G. Neri

Illustrated by A.G. Ford

Another picture book biography told in verse. The collection of free verse poems tell about Cash’s life. It would be good for teaching biography and word choice.


all the water

All the Water in the World

By George Ella Lyon

Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson

This is a poem spread out over a picture book format. All the water in the world can touch on water cycle standards and also be a great example for word choice.


Other 10 for 10 Posts

 10 for 10 Picture Books for Mentor Texts for Word Choice

10 for 10 Nonfiction Picture Books about Virginia History as Writing Mentor Texts


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  1. We love the way you organized these texts. What wonderful books to share with students so that they see the power of language in nonfiction texts.

  2. Gorgeous list. I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of nonfiction texts that have this lyrical energy to them. Lulled and learning all at once. 🙂

  3. Finding nonfiction with poetic text is such a treat. Thanks for this list, I now have a mission to find them in the library. After that, I will probably need to purchase them.

  4. I was so excited about this list when I saw it on the Google Plus page. I was even more excited (though my wallet isn’t!) when I read the description of all of these texts. I’ve read a few of them, but not nearly enough.

    I’ve been a big fan of Matisse since I was a teenager so I can’t wait to check out The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse.

  5. I love your selection and focus this year. I just discovered poetry nonfiction and created a tub in my new classroom library. I also just ordered and got today All the Water in the World. Thanks for joining us.

    • Awesome idea for a poetry nonfiction tub! I love All the Water in the World. George Ella Lyon spoke about it a few years ago at VSRA and I’ve been using it in Science ever since. I also love her newer one WHAT FOREST KNOWS. Lovely. Thanks for putting #nfpb10for10 together. 🙂

  6. Great choices!

  7. Marcie,
    What a wonderful list! I have been back and forth between your suggestions and the library’s digital reserves. I’m looking forward to checking out many of these new-to-me titles. You make such a good point about the way nonfiction writers tell so much, in often so few words. Interesting. Thanks for joining once again!